A gift from Kathryn Burlingham in the mail yesterday: a sturdy shopping bag with, on one side, a graphic of melons (canteloupes, specifically); on the other, this quotation from Martin Luther (in English translation):
You pant after
the garlic and watermelons of Egypt
and have already long suffered
from perverted tastes.
That’s Luther, the main figure of the German Reformation, translator of the Bible into German, and prolific writer of hymns — and also an often-incendiary writer and speaker, given to insult (as above).
I’ve been musing about “perverted tastes”. I have a taste, indeed a fondness, for certain perversions, but I doubt these were what Luther had in mind; I suspect his thoughts were on food: foods from the seductive Mediterranean basin, aphrodisiac foods, phallic foods.
(The quotation is from Against Latomus, Vol. 32 of Luther’s Works, p. 223.)
Candidates for exotic, erotic, or luxurious foods that might appeal to those of perverted tastes:
with Mediterranean associations: citrus fruits (especially lemons: Kennst du das Land / Wo die Zitronen blühn?), olives and olive oil, chili peppers, garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, chickpeas, apricots, yoghurt, sesame seeds and sesame paste
with aphrodisiac associations: oysters, snails, chocolate, figs, grapes, avocados, watermelon, honey, strawberries
of phallic appearance: asparagus, bananas
Some takes on perverse food. Laurence Olivier extols oysters and snails to his slave boy Tony Curtis in Spartacus (1960):
Titania to her fairies (Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, Scene 1):
Be kind and polite to this gentleman. Follow him around. Leap and dance for him. Feed him apricots and blackberries, with purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries. Steal honey from the bumblebees
And man happily eating asparagus:
No, no! Not between the teeth! Put the spear down your throat!